Thursday, October 18, 2012

Siblings and Down syndrome

(Revised from 2 years ago...the kids seemed to have a much harder time answering my questions this time. I have to wonder if that isn't because they are even more used to having siblings with Ds and also because the girls are getting older and easier...)

How does having siblings with Down syndrome affect the typical children in your home? How do your other children feel about having siblings with Down syndrome? What do they like? What do they dislike? Is it bad for them? 

I could honestly answer those questions in no time: my typical kids love their siblings with Down syndrome and wouldn’t be averse to having more around; they like having their silly siblings to play with, help, love on; they dislike their siblings with Down syndrome for the same reasons they dislike their siblings who don’t have Down syndrome but at a lower frequency. (Well, most days they dislike them at a lower frequency.)

Those aren’t terribly satisfying answers, are they?

Instead, I asked each of my older children some of those questions. Here are the answers:

Luke: [What do you like about your sisters?] They're funny. [What don't you like about your sisters?] They don't do what they're told, except for Emma.

Alex: [How do you feel about having 3 siblings with Ds?] I'm better about understanding that there are people out there with disabilities and I can look beyond the disabilities. Loving them is easier for me because I understand it. The disadvantage is that it's harder and more frustrating and they can get annoying. It would be easier if they didn't have Ds. [If you could wave a magic wand and take away the Ds, would you?] No, because then they wouldn't be them.

Song: [What do you like about your sisters?] They are entertaining. Vera's fashion never gets old. Emma's dramatic. I wish Ella could talk more but she still seems to communicate. They've helped me with patience. [What don't you like?] I get more frustrated with other people about them. 

Anna: [What do you like about having your three sisters with Ds?] If I didn't, I probably wouldn't care much about other kids with Down syndrome but not if I see a kid with Ds I wouldn't just ignore them. Ella is the cutest little girl in the world. Emma is the nicest...most of the time. And Vera is hilarious, her personality is hilarious. [What don't you like?] If they are asked to do something they don't want to do, they get all worked up and cry or throw a fit or something. [Are there any drawbacks?] Well, when Vera or Emma walk up to people at church and try to talk, sometimes they are ignored and that is really annoying.

There you have it: a few uncensored remarks from siblings in the Spicer family. Patience and fun seem to be the order of the day.

One difference in our family compared to some families of special needs kids is that our girls don’t have any real medical issues and aren’t terribly needy. I have to wonder if that helps the overall tenor of our home to remain positive and keeps the typical kids from feeling like their needs are overlooked. On the other hand, I know many families much larger than ours with several kids whose needs are severe, yet all the children thrive in their home. I’ve seen over and over again that life can be wonderful and full in many different circumstances.

We do try to have plenty of occasions for our typical children to do things without the little kids (including Dean) and vice versa. I take each of the kids on dates every couple of months. John takes each child (who wants to go) on an overnight trip to his college alma mater’s football games in the fall. When possible, the older kids go on church trips. I think we would make this effort even if all eight of our children were typical.

1 comment:

Hevel said...

I loved this post, and I know I meant to comment on it earlier. I love it that your children love each other so much!